Yellow Fever in Angola Kills 225 as WHO Warns Vaccines Depleted

  • World Health Organization says vaccinations must continue
  • Africa's second-biggest oil producer caught ``unprepared''

Angola’s worst outbreak of Yellow fever in three decades has left 225 people dead and spread to more than half of the country’s provinces, as the World Health Organization warned emergency stockpiles of the vaccine are depleted.

The mosquito-borne disease was first found last year in an outskirt of the capital, Luanda, at an open-air market known as Kilometer 30. At least 505 cases of the disease have been confirmed since December, Health Minister Luis Gomes Sambo said this week.

The WHO and the Angolan Health Ministry have vaccinated about 90 percent of Luanda’s six million residents against the disease, using vaccines from an emergency stockpile, according to the WHO. The vaccination program should now be extended to the rest of the country, Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, told reporters Tuesday after meeting with President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.

“We recommend that the vaccination work continues, not only in Luanda, but also in other regions which are seeing cases of the epidemic,” Chan said.

Uncollected Garbage

With global emergency stockpiles of the Yellow fever vaccine completely depleted, the WHO said on its website it’s trying to persuade manufacturers to divert shipments destined for routine immunization programs to emergency stocks. At least 1.5 million doses are needed to vaccinate the population at risk in Luanda province alone, it said.

There are an estimated 200,000 cases of Yellow fever worldwide each year, with most deaths caused by the illness occurring in Africa, according to the WHO.

Africa’s second-biggest oil producer was caught “unprepared” to deal with the outbreak as a slump in oil prices is draining government revenue, Antonio Pinto, Professor of Sociology at state-run Universidade Agostinho Neto, said by phone.

The city of Luanda lacks basic sanitation and piles of garbage clogged the streets before heavy rains arrived, Pinto said. “Uncollected garbage, rain, clogged sewage: you have a recipe for disaster.”

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